Yann Novak - Snowfall [Dragons Eye Recordings - 2014]
Here’s a cd on Dragons Eye Recordings, with a very stark, elegant design: just black, grey and white simplicity. The track it contains is also disarmingly simple: an hour-long drift through frequencies and textures.
As the title, “Snowfall”, suggests, Novak’s piece is icy in tone and glacial in pace; though, most definitely imbued with a warmth, nestling in the drones. These drones are essentially the backbone and foundation of the track: near blown-out, wind-like washes, subterranean, low-end throbs and delicate, high-frequency trails… These are deployed by Novak in slow-moving sections, with equally slow-moving shifts. A reasonable reference point might be Kev Martin’s - apparently forgotten - Isolationism compilation from way back when; though here the sounds are shorn of any overt menace or dread, leaving an uneasy melancholy, an eeriness: a quietness. At points, there’s even a choral, church-like beauty to proceedings. The bulk of the material would appear to be electronic in origin, though more complicated, singular sounds break the surface; I think these are most probably field recordings, possibly processed. (It’s entirely possible that many of the sounds on “Snowfall” are, in fact, processed field recordings.) As you might imagine, there are no great dynamic shifts throughout the track; it begins quietly, builds, continues, and then dies down again in its last few minutes. A very simple arc, marked out by subtle changes and passages of textural differences.
This is a very solid release of minimal drone, near electro-acoustic in its studied tone and concentration. It rewards careful listening - if not demands it - and is not an album that offers any quick thrills for listeners. Whilst it is a very minimal album, it is, regardless, very ear-friendly: its not a difficult release of bare, formal tones. In fact, the passages with a church-like evocation, bring to mind Stars Of The Lid (minus their overt “majesty”): which actually suggests the comparison, that “Snowfall” is a microscopic version of Stars Of The Lid’s more macroscopic vision.Martin P